You’ve done the work, packaged the findings, laid out the business case, and developed the ask and recommendations. Whether your software of choice is PowerPoint, Keynote or SlideRocket, you’ve turned your presentation into a work of art. Crafting and packaging your message is very important but the rubber meets the road when you communicate it.
In 1967, UCLA sociolinguist Dr. Albert Mehabrian published papers based on two studies: “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”.
In his studies, Mehabrian comes to two conclusions. The first one being that there are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication:
- Tone of voice, and
- Nonverbal behavior.
They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.
The second conclusion emphasizes that the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are at odds such that if words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behavior, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behavior.
Mehrabian combined the results of the two studies to obtain the ratio 7:38:55 which is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule.
The rule argues that overall credibility in communication is distributed as follows:
- 55% of meaning comes from presentation,
- 38% of meaning comes from tonality, and
- 7% of meaning comes from the words themselves.
Read the Tea Leaves: Catch the Cues
The art of tasseomancy (reading the tea leaves) involves interpreting patterns that loose tea leaves leave in a cup or in a saucer. Some believe that the pattern made by the leaves can be interpreted to tell the future of the one who drank the tea.
In preparation for your presentation, you should try to “read the virtual teas leaves” so that you’ll be able to catch the cues and maximize your chances of success. I summarized them as follows:
2. Dress For Context
3. Know Your Audience
These three tips will help you set the stage for your presentation.
Visual: Body Language
Jerry Weissman is undoubtedly one of the best corporate presentation coaches. In one of his blog posts, he explains the notion of the “body wrap” which is a natural anxiety response and the opposite of owning your own space.
4. Self Awareness
5. Own Your Own Space
6. Demonstrate Competence With Confidence
I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Tina Fay’s bestselling book Bossypants. Her book includes business advice through the use of humorous examples. In one such example, she explains that in order to convey confidence, you must not finish every sentence as though it had a question mark.
7. Project With Passion & Volume
8. Use Downward Inflections
When you use downward inflections, you essentially get rid of that implied question mark. Amy Gonzalez, Director of Women Unlimited’s Western Region thought me a technic that I’ll never forget and that works perfectly well for mastering downward inflections. She recommends that you silently say <damn it> to yourself at the end of each statement.
- My name is Lina Arseneault <damn it>,
- I’m here to present a business case <damn it>,
- You’ll walk away from this meeting thinking that xxx is the best solution <damn it>
Not only will it eliminate the diminishing silent question mark, it will also provide much needed pauses allowing you to breath (and possibly prevent you from fainting).
- I’m Lina Arseneault? (upward inflection with an implied question mark):
Implication: audience is wondering if you’re actually even sure about that?
9. Focus On How You Say It
10. Eliminate Qualifiers, Tags & Diminishing Words
In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry Weissman discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations. Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience. Examples include:
- Does that make sense?
- Like I said …
- You know …
To communicate the message of your presentation with confidence and competence, remember to read the virtual tea leaves and mind the 3 Vs” of communications: verbal, vocal & visual.
Would you add anything to the list of tips?
Download the Slideshare companion presentation.
Read a summary of Jerry Weissman’s Power Presenter
Cafélina uses Royalty free images.